COVID-19 has become a nightmare that’s gobbling up each and every fundamental aspect that our civilization rests upon. Business, in particular has received a massive blow to the head; many firms will have to start from ground-zero once this pandemic is over. Not all will face the same fate though, there are some that have started to adapt and overcome.
Foodmandu, in particular with its “Foodmandu Fresh” concept is ushering in a change that might well prove to be a salvation for all in this hour of need. What is this “Foodmandu Fresh” all about? To put it concisely, the online food delivery platform, Foodmandu has just forayed into the grocery delivery segment, offering to deliver grocery items to your doorstep in this lockdown scenario.
Foodmandu Fresh: The Inception
When asked about Foodmandu Fresh, Mr. Nidhaan Shrestha, the CEO of Foodmandu, mentioned that it was an effort within Foodmandu to provide “Essential” fresh grocery to customers in these trying times. Furthermore, he elaborated that it basically covers those daily necessary food products such as Vegetables, Fruits, Meat, Eggs, Dairy and Bakery.
“Foodmandu Fresh was originally thought about and discussed vertical at the Foodmandu Board level even prior to the firm raising Series B Funding. However, our planned modality of operations was completely different to what has come about. COVID-19 presented us with a rather unique and uncertain situation where we took a quick decision on its implementation, be it in a different operational modality.”
Seemingly, the entire infrastructure and logistical angles was fermented in just 2 days.
“Work from Home Call Center approach, The Transition to Four Wheeler delivery from our traditional two wheeler delivery, Scheduled Delivery (within 4 days) from our traditional on demand delivery, Minimum on ground manpower for optimum output, Our make-shift fulfillment center, Customer order sorting infrastructure and process, Vendor selection and product selection, Brand Guidelines for Foodmandu Fresh, Communication modality for existing covid19 scenario and Operational Guideline and expansion modality; a lot of things were considered and implemented in these 2 days.” added Shrestha.
Unexpected Hurdles and Downfall in Sales
But empires obviously can’t be built in just 2 days. Obviously, there were hurdles and challenges in the way that slowed the entire process down. For one, they recently had some troubles with their passes getting expired. This created a ruckus for some time; which obviously delayed the process a little further.
“We were one of the e-commerce companies of the many that were able to secure a permit to operate delivery of essential goods through a single permit as soon as the COVID-19 lockdown announcement.
To streamline processes, eradicate the misuse of passes and avoid social accumulation of people at one department, the Govt announced that new passes will have to be secured for delivery of essentials (Four-Wheeler only). The circular is openly accessible and was a directive to all of the then operating delivery services.
At Foodmandu, we believe transparency and accountability is key, so we openly put up our announcement and a snippet of the circular as well to inform our customers accordingly and quickly moved to processing of new permits.”
The other hurdle was surprisingly the downfall in sales. Foodmandu, as you may know, is one of those companies that have entirely changed the whole food delivery system once they came into existence. Before the pandemic, they were handling up to 1200 orders per day. Since they only have a single permit that allows one delivery van, sales have fallen drastically.
“For a firm like Foodmandu, which has been historically delivering up to 1200 orders per day, current orders stand at a lower side primarily due to the operational van capacity. The bottleneck has hampered the sales to such a point that we’re currently operating on a minimal daily loss proposition.
Delivery System – The Bottleneck in the Equation
Of course, the major hurdle in this situation is the delivery system. Government has only provided 2 specific four-wheelers permit that majorly out shadows the previously dependent two-wheelers system that Foodmandu were dependent upon. Due to this particular limitation, Foodmandu is able to handle at most 70-100 orders per day. Compared to the 1200 orders existing previously, this is a major hit in the sales that entirely capsizes the boat in which everything stands upon.
“I believe I can speak for all aggregating platforms, that per van delivery capacity can max hit up to 35 -50 orders a day. I stress on the word ‘aggregating’ as platforms like ourselves work on a zero inventory model i.e. we pick up the products ordered by customers every day in the morning from our five different vendors (Nepal Dairy, Kheti Food, Golden Fresh Mart, Agrimove and Valley Cold Store) and work towards sorting and assorting the orders per customer for final delivery.”
It’s not the input that’s the problem, it’s mostly the output. Within just an hour of opening the platform, they already had 100’s orders pending in their inventory. With just 2 permitted vehicles, it’s practically impossible for them to manage 100+ orders in a single day. That is primarily the reason as to why orders take as much as 4 days to be completed. Moreover, it is also the reason as to why the delivery is confined to certain areas of Kathmandu and Lalitpur.
“We open our order taking place at 12 noon every day and halt orders as soon as it reaches our daily operational capacity. So, we take in orders for a 3-4 days period at a go and manage the delivery schedules likewise.
Furthermore, we believe in taking orders that we can fulfill with guarantee. We have enabled our customers with requisite information post their order submission. Taking in orders that we won’t be able to complete will just splash dirt in our company’s face.”
Overwhelming the Hurdles
Even with these hurdles slamming every now and then, Foodmandu has still managed to stand their ground. They’ve overwhelmed most of the complications and moved forward with complete faith. In contrast, the people at Foodmandu believe that communication is the key.
They communicate with their customers; which is partly a reason as to why Foodmandu deliveries are more reliable. Once they take in your order, it’s sure to arrive at your doorsteps; which particularly shows their commitment.
“As a platform, Foodmandu provides order confirmation notification, order confirmation call, order delivery schedules and order delivery date calls. This way we believe the customers will be well informed with regards to their order status and won’t have to panic or be in a confused state with regards to what their order status stands at.
Furthermore, they seem to take precautions quite seriously. Unlike other platforms, they don’t accept cash-on-delivery. The payment is strictly limited to online transfers only. Either Fonepay or Khalti/e-sewa are the primary methods of payment which does not involve physical contact at all.
“Our vans are disinfected on a periodic basis. Our riders are well equipped with sanitizer (Which they are advised to use generously every 15-20 mins), Masks (Which they can change every two hrs or as per need), Surgical Gloves (Which they may change as per requirement or at minimum every 2-3 hrs as well).
We are strictly implementing contactless delivery i.e. our staff will place your order at your doorstep while staying 4 ft away. We only accept digital payments (Prepayment from Khalti & Scan to Pay via Fonepay network banks and institutions). So, in the whole process of delivery, our staff will not make contact with our customers at all while sanitizing themselves periodically.
Our vendors are certified with food hygiene certifications and handle food products with extra caution.”
A Future Extension
The challenges imposed on the new integration are mostly still prominent due to the on-going pandemic. After the pandemic is over, there’ll be very few restrictions. So as expected, Foodmandu will definitely be continuing this “Foodmandu Fresh” integration in the future.
“We look forward to continuing with ‘Foodmandu Fresh’ even post the pandemic (Fingers crossed and sincere prayers for the pandemic to get over at the earliest). However, there will be a lot of iteration to the existing product to provide a more engaging, exciting and convenient customer experience.”
So, that was all on the new integration from Foodmandu. Have you managed to order through their platform yet? If so, make sure to share with us your experience on the whole procedure.